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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

2 Chronicles 22

 

 

Verse 3-4

DISCOURSE: 412

THE DANGER OF FOLLOWING EVIL COUNSEL

2 Chronicles 22:3-4. He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his detruction.

THOUGH Jehovah is undoubtedly the Governor of the universe, it is certain that there is a mighty being always exerting himself in opposition to him; and with such great apparent success, as to be justly designated “the god of this world.” In the contest that is maintained between them, each has, if I may so speak, his partisans and agents, who, under their respective heads, labour to execute their master’s will, and to promote the interest of him to whom they belong. Jehovah employs holy men, whose hearts he has touched with his heavenly grace; and whom he sends forth as his ambassadors, to instruct our fallen race, and to rescue them from the dominion of the great usurper. Satan, on the other hand, has his servants also, whom he employs to deceive mankind, and to rivet on them the chains with which they are already bound. In this, however, he differs from that Almighty Power against whom he is arrayed; that, whereas Jehovah delights to make use of the weakest instruments, and “by things which are not, to bring to nought things that are,” Satan is constrained to select the most powerful agents to carry on his cause; well knowing that, without them, he has no hope of effecting any thing. When, in his efforts to rob Job of his integrity, he destroyed all his children, he forbore to destroy the wife of Job, that by her means he might tempt that holy man to “curse God and die.” When he would divert the Lord Jesus Christ from his purpose to redeem the world, he employed the Apostle Peter to dissuade him from subjecting himself to the sufferings that were to come upon him. Thus he acted in reference to the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was a pious king, and served Jehovah faithfully. But Satan wished to reduce Judah, as well as Israel, to idolatry; and, for this end, stirred up Jehoram’s wife to tempt him to it [Note: 2 Kings 21:6.], and afterwards to give the same impious counsel to her son Ahaziah; thereby leading both of them “to their destruction.”

The history before us will naturally lead me to point out,

I. The influence of evil counsel—

Good counsel, alas! has, for the most part, but little effect. We cannot doubt but that Samuel, knowing as he did the bitter consequences which a want of parental authority had entailed on Eli, was careful to instruct his children in the ways of God, and to reprove in them the first appearances of evil. But, notwithstanding all his efforts, his sons turned aside from the paths of judgment, and rendered the very government of Jehovah himself odious in the eyes of all Israel [Note: 1 Samuel 8:1-5.]. Nor can we doubt but that Jehoshaphat, though in some respects faulty, strove to maintain the authority of Jehovah in his family. But his sons were more easily led to imitate his errors than his piety. He himself had joined in an alliance with Ahab, and had consented to a marriage of his son with Ahab’s daughter, whose counsels weighed both with her husband and her son far more than any advice of his: yea, though God had signally interposed to thwart his efforts, when combined with those of Ahab, his son and grandson courted the same alliance, and brought on themselves, and on all connected with them, the heaviest judgments [Note: 1 Kings 20:35-37. with 21:14, 15 and 22:4.].

But let us mark this matter more distinctly,

1. In the case before us—

[To what was it that Ahaziah’s mother tempted him? It was to idolatry. But can we conceive that the counsel of any one, however dear, should have power to draw a person to idolatry? yea, that it should prevail with a person who had been educated in the knowledge of the one true God? Hear the account given of idolaters by the Prophet Hosea: “My people ask counsel of their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.” Can we conceive it possible that any person who had heard of all the wonders which Jehovah had wrought for his people in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and in Canaan, should ever be seduced to such infatuation as this? Of ignorant savages we may imagine any thing: but of God’s own peculiar people, and of him who was at the head of them, the grandson of the pious Jehoshaphat, we cannot believe it! or the apostate must at least have been bereft of reason. Alas! not so: the man has his mother for his counsellor; and her advice is quite sufficient to draw him from the Most High God to the worship of stocks and stones! I say again, if this fact were not attested on the authority of God himself, we could not credit it; we could not conceive it possible that evil counsel should possess such an influence as this.]

2. In our own case—

[It is well known how generally the rising generation are counselled by their friends and relatives to follow the world rather than God, and to attend to the concerns of time rather those of eternity. I speak not here respecting any particular doctrines of religion which may be supposed to have an injurious effect, and therefore to be an object of jealousy: but I speak of all serious religion, irrespective of any peculiar doctrine: I speak of the fear of God; of a holy anxiety about the soul; about a diligent preparation for death and judgment. Of these things, speculatively considered, every one professes to approve: yet no sooner does any person begin to experience them in his soul, than his own dearest friends, his mother, his wife, his sister, his “friend that is as his own soul,” will begin to caution him against being “righteous over-much,” or, in other words, against being righteous at all. If the person reply, ‘But I have a soul; and it will be called into judgment, and be doomed either to heaven or hell, according to the state in which it is found: and should I not prepare for that great account?’ the answer will be, ‘No; you have no need to fear: only do as others around you, and you have nothing to be afraid of: God will never enter into judgment with persons who live as you have done.’ Thus all the most blessed counsels of Jehovah are set at nought — — — [Note: Isaiah 55:1-3. Revelation 3:18. These should be cited, with a short comment.] and poor fallible men will set their word agamst the word of Jehovah, and will assure those of ultimate impunity, whom God, in the most solemn manner, dooms to everlasting perdition.

But can it be supposed that any one will follow such counsel, and be led by it to prefer the body to the soul, the creature to the Creator, time to eternity, and hell to heaven? It cannot surely be, that any one in his senses can be so influenced, either by friends or enemies. Methinks, the answer that would instantly be given to all such counsellors would be, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” But there are few, very few, in whom this fortitude is found. And if a person can only say, My father or “my mother so counselled me,” he will cease to think that he “does wickedly,” or that he has reason to fear the displeasure of his God.]

But let me faithfully warn you of,

II. The danger of following it—

This unhappy king was soon made to feel the bitter consequences of his folly: for God “fixed his eyes upon him for evil,” and in one short year brought him down “to his destruction.” His end, in this view, is worthy of notice. He went with Jehoram, the son of Ahab, to fight against Hazael, king of Syria. Being wounded in the battle, he went to Jezreel, to be healed of his wounds. Whilst he was there, on a visit to Jehoram, king of Israel, he went forth with Jehoram to inquire into the reason of the apparently hostile approach of Jehu: and finding Jehu too powerful for him, and his friend the king of Israel slain by him, he fled to Samaria, and hid himself there: but, being found, he was taken, and brought to Jehu, and put to death. And all this was ordered of the Lord, as we are expressly told: “The destruction of Ahaziah was of God, by coming to Joram. [Note: ver. 5–9.]” In like manner will every one find, that in “contemning God’s counsel,” he only ensures his own destruction [Note: Psalms 107:11.].

In two ways will a compliance with evil counsel operate to a man’s destruction:

1. By the habits which it will induce—

[A person, in yielding to evil counsel, thinks perhaps, that he will only follow it on a particular occasion, or to a given extent. But who shall say where a man on a precipitous descent shall stop? Perhaps the advice given was only to avoid singularity; and, for this end, to avoid the ministry of those who might awaken his conscience, or the society of those who might lead him to God. By following this advice, he is kept from attaining a principle of true piety, which alone can preserve him from any evil. He loves not the word of God; and therefore he employs his leisure in some foolish vanity: he has no pleasure in communion with God; and therefore he associates with those who are like-minded with himself: he affects not heaven; and therefore is satisfied with the things of time and sense.

It may be, that he is never particularly tempted to the commission of any flagrant evil; and therefore he goes on respectably in the eyes of the world; but without any real delight in God, or any serious preparation for eternity: but if he be tried by any violent temptation, he is carried away, like the dust before the wind, and falls a prey to his great enemy. Behold the gambler, the adulterer, the duellist! each, in his calling, was deemed a man of worth, till, by his want of principle, he was betrayed into the evils by which he fell. But had he, in the first instance, listened, not to the counsels of ungodly men, but to the voice of God in his word, he had escaped the snares which were laid for his feet, and avoided the destruction that has come upon his soul. Nor is it into occasional sin only that men are drawn by a want of religious principle, but frequently into a contempt for all religion; as the Psalmist intimates, when, in a triple climax, he describes a man, first “walking (transiently) in the counsel of the ungodly (who have no vital piety); then standing in the way of sinners; and, at last, sitting in the seat of the scornful [Note: Psalms 1:1.].”]

2. By the judgments which it will entail—

[Men may promise us impunity in the ways of sin: but it shall be found, at last, “whose words shall stand, theirs or God’s [Note: Jeremiah 44:28.].” God has said, “Evil shall hunt the wicked man, to overthrow him [Note: Psalms 140:11.].” The hunted deer thinks himself at a distance from any enemy, and that he has no ground for fear: but his step has left a scent behind him; and that, once found, is traced with fatal precision, till he is overtaken, and destroyed. So the judgments of God, at whatever distance they may be thought to be, follow the sinner, till at last “his sin finds him out [Note: Numbers 32:23.],” and brings down the wrath of an offended God upon him. In vain may he “make a covenant with death and hell: his covenant with death shall be disannulled; and his agreement with hell shall not stand: when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, he shall be trodden down by it [Note: Isaiah 28:18.]:” yea, “though hand join in hand,” and there be a confederacy of the whole universe for his protection, “he shall not be unpunished [Note: Proverbs 11:21.].” “Let no man deceive himself: God is not mocked; nor will be: for whatsoever any man soweth, that shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption: and he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting [Note: Galatians 6:7-8.].”]

Address,

1. Those who are exerting their influence against the Lord—

[Who has not, at one time or other, been guilty of this sin? Who has not either derided serious piety himself, or forborne to vindicate it when derided by others, and thus sanctioned, by silence at least, the counsel of the ungodly? We may think lightly of this evil: but the rebuke given to Peter, when, from a love to his Master, he would have dissuaded him from suffering, shews clearly enough the light in which our conduct has been viewed by Almighty God. In every such act we have taken part with the devil, and done his work: and we may well expect to hear from him that indignant reproof, “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Consider, then, I pray you, Brethren, what you are doing, when you “counsel any one to do wickedly,” or to refrain from obeying any command of God: you “cast a stumbling-block before your brother, and destroy a soul for whom Christ died [Note: Romans 14:15.],” You also bring the deepest guilt upon your own soul; and will have the blood of those, whom you have ruined, required at your hands. Reflect a moment on the state to which both you and those who have followed your advice will soon be reduced. It is said that the wicked will be “bound in bundles, and cast into the fire [Note: Matthew 13:30.].” By this I understand, that they who have encouraged each other in sin will be so brought into contact with each other in the eternal world, as to increase each other’s torment to all eternity by their mutual recriminations. The mother will then execrate the folly that her son committed in listening; to her counsels, in opposition to the word of God; whilst the son will cast the most bitter reflections on her, for so abusing her influence to the ruin of his soul. Let these considerations be laid to heart by those who imagine that they are only exercising love: for verily it is such a love as Satan himself approves; and such a love as all, who either exercise it or obey it, will bitterly bewail.]

2. Those who yield to influence so exerted—

[Do not imagine, that, in guarding you against a compliance with the counsels of a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, I would willingly interrupt the harmony of the domestic circle, and still less that I would lessen in your eyes the obligations of parental authority. No: in every thing that is not contrary to God’s commands, parental authority ought to be regarded with the deepest veneration, and obeyed with the greatest readiness. To honour our parents is “the first command with promise:” and the blessing of God will always come on those who duly respect it. But there is an authority paramount to that of any creature; and our blessed Lord has expressly told us that no creature under heaven must be put in competition with him: “He that loveth father or mother, or son or daughter, more than me, is not worthy of me [Note: Matthew 10:37.].” It will be no excuse that you have yielded either to the endearments or authority of love, if, in so doing, you have violated any command of God, or withheld from him any service which you might have rendered. Let it be granted, that, in withstanding the solicitations of your friends, you grieve and offend them: is it not better than to grieve and offend your God? Or, if by means of it you suffer the loss of an earthly inheritance, is not that a better alternative than to lose your own soul? for, “what shall a man take in exchange for his soul?” Learn, then, Beloved, to regard, in the first place, the commands of God. Learn to seek, above all things, his favour; for “in his favour is life;” and “his loving-kindness is better than life itself.” If the advice given you be good, you will do well to follow it, as Timothy did that of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice [Note: 2 Timothy 1:5.]:” but if it be evil, “We ought to obey God rather than men [Note: Acts 5:29.],” must be the principle to which you must inviolably adhere.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 22:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/2-chronicles-22.html. 1832.

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